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OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory Opening Postponed

The opening of the new OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory has been postponed.

Mid Ulster District Council, which has developed the £1.2M visitor attraction at Davagh Forest in the foothills of the Sperrins, made the decision in light of the current restrictions and health guidance.

Chair of the Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan, said it was ‘the most responsible decision:

While this is a huge disappointment, especially to the hundreds of people who had booked to enjoy the full OM experience, we feel it is the most responsible decision in the current context. Our dark skies, ancient landscape and fascinating archaeology aren’t going anywhere and we will be ready and waiting to welcome our first visitors for the full OM experience as soon as the current period of restrictions ends.

A lack of light pollution allows unrivalled views of the night sky and makes the site of the new visitor centre and observatory ideal for star-gazing.

Bringing space exploration right down to earth, the OM exhibition uses touch screens, binoculars, mini-telescopes and interpretative panels to help visitors explore our solar system, while donning a virtual reality headset means visitors can witness the birth of a star and the mesmerising Aurora Borealis, day or night.

The centrepiece of the building is the first floor observatory with a retractable roof where the 14 inch LX600 Meade telescope will be in action during special star-gazing events and VIP tours.

As well as the guided exhibition tour, the night-time experience on offer includes the OM Odyssey, an outdoor film screening which either speeds the audience from urban lights into the vastness of the universe or swoops them through an ancient forest, under the fast-flowing Broughderg River before they soar into the sky.

The project has been developed by Mid Ulster District Council, with funding investment of £500K secured from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Rural Tourism Scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and a further £245k towards the project from the Landfill Tax Fund.

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